I went to a yoga class last Friday that was taught by an instructor I had not previously met. I found the class challenging and frustrating. Why? Because if was composed almost entirely of poses I had never done. And they were challenging. The main reason I started going to Yoga classes was to address my lower back pain and the stiffness that has resulted from cycling. But most of these poses required far more flexibility that I was capable of.
Furthermore, the instructor used a vocabulary that was full of words that I had never heard and which I didn't know the meaning of. Plus her voice was very soft and, combine that with hearing that isn't as good as it used to be, the result was additional frustration.
I left the class discouraged and somewhat resentful. I had had such a good class the day before, but I felt resentful that my budding practice had been overly challenged, even though the instructor had offered words of encouragement and emphasized that wherever we are at is fine. I was also somewhat concerned about the new pain in my lower back.
The next morning, I felt much better, both physically and emotionally. I guess my lesson was to resist the urge to rush to judgment - a lesson I can apply in all areas of my life.
Another important lesson: to relax into the pose. Stop clinching and tightening muscles that aren't involved in the pose. Stop squeezing the glutes, don't tighten quads that aren't involved; don't be so rigid that I prevent myself from relaxing into the pose and focusing on what it is intended to accomplish.
As I thought about this, I also saw the broader application of this lesson to life in general: rigidity can detract us from relaxing into what life may be trying to teach us, a relaxation that can build strength and flexibility and create openness in an area of our lives that was once tightly constricted.